Why Does My Shih Tzu Not Like to Cuddle?

why does my shih tzu not like to cuddle - woman holding shih tzu with blue Christmas tree behind them
Depositphotos ID: 275768422 Copyright: Dizfoto

You’ve heard the stories about Shih Tzus being lapdogs and how they love to be right there with you all the time, and yet, yours doesn’t want anything to do with your lap and would rather sit at the other end of the sofa. Mine is the same, so it got me wondering why does my Shih Tzu not like to cuddle when so many do?

Do Shih Tzus Like to Cuddle?

In general. It is true that most Shih Tzus like to cuddle and sit in your lap. Some people even complain that their Shih Tzu is too clingy and wants to cuddle too much, but that’s not always true.

Shih Tzus have their own little personalities and you can’t generalize that all Shih Tzus are alike because they aren’t.

I have two Shih Tzus, Truman, and Sammy. (You can learn more about Truman and Sammy here.)

I first met Truman when he was a week old and once he was eight weeks old he was living with me. From day one, I could tell Turman was an independent little doggie and cuddling was the last thing he would ever want. 

This might be because he was a litter of one, so he really wasn’t used to being around a mess of puppies climbing all over each other. Or it could just be who he is.

Either way, that never changed. To this day, he still doesn’t want to cuddle. He sits on one end of the sofa and I sit on the other.

The only time he really likes any affection is when it’s bedtime. I always take a few moments and pet him and scratch his belly and tell him how much I love him. He enjoys this for about two minutes and then he is back to his normal prickly self.

Sammy, on the other hand, is a rescue dog and she lives to sit in my lap and lay butted up against me at night when I’m trying to sleep. 

If you pick her up, she lays her head on your shoulder and wants nothing more than for you to wrap your arms around her. 

Truman and Sammy are very different dogs, but then they had very different beginnings in life.

The point is, some Shih Tzus like to cuddle and some don’t, but there are reasons your Shih Tzu might not want to cuddle with you, so read on…

6 Reasons Your Shih Tzu Doesn’t Want to Cuddle

There are several reasons why your Shih Tzu might not be cuddling with you. These are the most common.

1.Cuddling is Not the Way Shih Tzus Show Affection 

When you look at how dogs show affection to other dogs, it isn’t by cuddling. Cuddling is a human response and without realizing it we kind of force it on dogs.

Some Shih Tzus accept cuddling more easily and dive in and make it a lifestyle, but some don’t. 

Like my Truman, he will go along with being cuddled for a few seconds, but then he is done. Sammy, on the other hand, can’t live without it. 

When it comes to showing affection, dogs have other ways to get the job done. Your Shih Tzu is showing you they love you when they do any of the following.

  • Nudge you with their noes
  • Leaning against you
  • Licking you
  • Letting out a long sigh when they lay down
  • Jumping when around you

So, try not to take it personally if your Shih Tzu doesn’t like to cuddle. If they are showing any of these other traits, then you know they love you.

shih tzu sleeping on a step
Depositphotos ID: 187943572 Copyright: viclin

2. Your Shih Tzu Has Been Abused in the Past

If you have a rescue Shih Tzu and they were abused in their former home, they may not want to cuddle. 

If your little pup was treated poorly then there is a good chance they are a little afraid of people. They might not know what to expect and could assume that at any moment they might be hurt. 

This can happen from being in an abusive home, as well as from poor training. If they were handled roughly when trained or spanked or hit in any way, they will be very worried about being too close to humans.

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3. Your Petting Your Shih Tzu in the Wrong Place

Chances are when your Shih Tzu is near you, you pet them. It’s only normal and most of the time dogs love it. That is unless you are petting them in an area of their body that they don’t like.

You could also be petting them too roughly. For example, because Shih Tzus are smaller dogs they might not enjoy having their ears or head petted too hard. 

So if you are a bit too overzealous with the petting, you might want to back off a bit.

Also, try a different area on your Shih Tzu when petting. If you normally pet your Shih Tzu’s shoulders, next time try a soft belly rub or their lower back.

Just mix it up and see what your pouch responds to best.

4. Many Shih Tzus Just Don’t Like Hugging

There was a study done recently that showed a lot of dogs, including Shih Tzus, don’t really like to be hugged. 

For some dogs, hugging makes them feel claustrophobic. That’s because their innate instinct is to run when in danger. When they are being hugged, they can feel trapped. Which in turn will cause them to feel anxiety and stress. 

In fact, a study done by Psychology Today found that 82 percent of dogs felt higher levels of stress and anxiety when they were hugged. 

That’s because, “Dogs are technically cursorial animals, which is a term that indicates that they are designed for swift running. That implies that in times of stress or threat the first line of defense that a dog uses is not his teeth, but rather his ability to run away.”

Pay close attention to how your Shih Tzu responds to hugging. If it seems they don’t like it, find another way to show your affection.

I know my Truman hates to be hugged. He gets stiff and tries to fight his way out of it after about one or two seconds.

Sammy, however, leans into it and loves…loves…loves it. Go figure.

5. Your Shih Tzu is in Pain

If your Shih Tzu has enjoyed cuddling in the past and has all of a sudden stopped liking it, they may be in pain.

It is possible they have an injury you are unaware of or some other health issue.

Senior dogs might be dealing with arthritis or other joint-related issues and when you pet them or try to cuddle it could make the pain worse, so they try to avoid it.

Also, when puppies go through a growth spurt it can cause pain and they will also try to avoid petting at it can make it worse.

If your Shih Tzu is normally a pretty cuddly dog and has stopped wanting to be cuddled, you should see your vet to make sure there isn’t an underlying health issue or injury.

shih tzu with sunglasses on looking through a window
Depositphotos ID: 189756658 Copyright: viclin

6. It’s Just the Way They Roll

Sometimes it all just comes down to personality. Just like people, some Shih Tzus want their personal space and the last thing they want is to have someone all over them.

I know that for me, I am not a hugger. I never understood why people want to hug people when they happen to run into them on the street or at some social event. It drives me nuts. 

Unfortunately, when you make it clear that you would prefer them to stand back and not get in your personal space they get upset. So, I give in and let them hug away even though I hate it.

Your Shih Tzu can be the same. If they are kind of an independent doggie, they may not be thrilled with all the physical contact. They might just give in as I do, but when given the choice they keep their distance. 

It’s just who they and I are.

How to Get Your Shih Tzu to Be More Cuddly

If it really bothers you that your Shih Tzu isn’t cuddly, there are a few things you can try to get your favorite pouch to want to hang out next to you on the sofa or cuddle up in bed.

1.Bribe Them

You might be the love of your dog’s life, but coming in at a close second is food. Be shameless and when your Shih Tzu is next to you or on your lap, give them a little treat. 

Do this enough, and they will associate treats and cuddles. It won’t take long before they are cuddling with you all day long.

2. Let Them Sleep With You

It has been shown that when your Shih Tzu sleeps in the same bed as you, they will cuddle more during the rest of the day.

They get used to being near you and will start to find it enjoyable. 

3. Start When They Are Young

If you have a Shih Tzu puppy be sure to give them a lot of affection when they are young. Brush their hair and talk to them and pet them often. 

Make being near you a wonderful experience for them and they will want to be near you forever.

Related Questions:

Are Shih Tzus Jealous Dogs?

While Shih Tzus tend to like most everyone, they are truly a one-person dog. Because of this, they can become jealous and not want to share that person with anyone else.

This is a behavior that you will need to try and change as it can make your Shih Tzu snappy and aggressive towards others in the household or even friends and family stopping by. 

To Sum it All Up:

Most Shih Tzus love to cuddle, but sometimes that’s not the case. If your Shih Tzu is in pain or is really independent than you may find that cuddling is the last thing they want. That’s also true if they have been abused in the past. 


Please Note:

This article is informational only and does not substitute for veterinary advice. Always check with your veterinarian if you are concerned about your Shih Tzu’s behavior. This article should not be considered in any way as veterinarian advice.

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